Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Philippines Vacation 2016 – Days 4 and 5

Capones Vista Beach Resort
My family had planned to spend the Easter weekend at a beach resort in Zambales and it was decided that we were going to leave at 3 a.m. on Thursday to avoid all the vacation traffic. We were joined by Elgee’s (Ninette’s sister) family consisting of husband Ben and son Uno driving in another car.  Well…only the 3 a.m. departure time worked out because it appeared like everyone had to same idea for avoiding traffic that it created the opposite effect and made traffic worse. It’s what we call in California a SIG Alert, only much longer. I’ll spare you the details, but what should have been a 3 hour trip lasted for 6 hours. All that time in traffic, I was thinking I hope this beach resort was worth going through all that (and it was). The trip back home? Well…you’ll hear about that later.
The Family
After escaping the initial traffic, Waze guided us directly to Capones Vista Beach Resort. It was quite a sight- there were rooms for rent, 2 fresh water pools, the beach, the sea, and across the sea were three islands. There were no more rooms available for weeks so my brother had made a reservation at a rest house in town where we checked in later. We found ourselves two tables where we could lay our belongings while we spent the day. For me, first things first: I had to do my workout for the day and that turned out to be a walking workout back and forth on both sides of the pools, occasionally extending it to the driveway and out the dirt path and back, until I finished my requisite 30 minutes (all in my flip flops which fortunately had good arch supports). When I returned, Uno was already in the pool enjoying himself, as he had been dying in anticipation to do this for days. The rest of us lounged around and settled down, and some wandered around to take the mandatory selfies and groupfies (?). Thoughts of the earlier traffic nightmare were gone by then. On this day, I was finally able to wear my newly bought flip up/flip down sunglasses for the bright sunlight.
Larry & I beside one of Capones Vista's pools
Soon enough it was the adults’ turn to enjoy the pool. Even my brother, who had a kidney transplant a couple of years ago (Ninette happens to be the donor), and required the perfect pH in the pool water, joined in the fun. He did a few laps and tried to teach Uno how to exhale in the water. The rest took a few strokes here and there and just generally enjoyed getting out of the stifling summer heat and humidity. I have not swum in decades and while the stroke was still somewhat acceptable, the endurance was gone. The 15 meter pool felt like 50 meters long. We played with Uno some more then ordered lunch. If I remember correctly, I had the fried milk fish, fried egg, and rice (bangsilog), and most of us ordered something similar. We swam and lounged some more before heading to town to find Big Foot, well…Big Foot Rest House, that is, where we would be spending our sleeping hours for the next couple of nights. Ninette and Larry had reserved 3 rooms: one for the men and boy, for the women, and for Pilaring, Liling, and Vangie.
Ninette enjoying her post swim margarita
We had Chinese food dinner at the Big Foot restaurant next door and afterwards returned to our quarters. Since it was Good Friday the next day, the restaurant was going to be closed, so we preordered our breakfast and coffee before the restaurant closed for the night. I was so exhausted that I was in bed before 10 p.m. It was the first time since 1973 that I shared a bed with my brother. Back then when I was 15 and he was 10, we shared a bunk bed in Jolo, Philippines. Well, that’s not entirely true because we also shared a bunk bed briefly in 1979 or 1980 when we lived with Auntie Faida before I moved to the U.S. I almost forgot this part - Liling knocked on our door at about 2 a.m. and reported that something was wrong with Pilaring. Larry and I went to their room and it appeared that Pilaring had an episode of sleep paralysis where she couldn't be aroused. Her respirations were pretty even and normal though so I was hoping it wasn't some kind of stroke. After several minutes of trying to arouse her, she finally woke up and we returned to bed.
I found the YETI
The agenda for the next day was to take a boat ride to lagoon an hour away. I woke up at about 5:30 and was out the door at 6 for my mandatory daily exercise. I walked 15 minutes one way and 15 minutes back, and by the time I got back to Big Foot, everyone was ready to leave for the boat ride. Pilaring appeared none the worse for wear despite the sleep paralysis episode she experienced just a few hours earlier.We had to leave the cars behind because the owner of the boats called my brother to tell him there were no more parking spots left. So be boarded several tricycles to get to the launching area. When we arrived at the beach, we waited until they had the food we were going to bring with us was cooked, then boarded a medium sized outrigger canoe (banca) which was just enough for all 10 of us plus 3 boat handlers. We donned our day-glo orange life jackets and were soon underway. At a steady clip on a calm sea, we went straight for about half an hour then made a left for another half hour before we arrived at a lagoon with a beach semi full of day trippers like us. On the way, we saw plenty of outriggers coming from and going to different beachfronts in the area. I think the one we went to was the least crowded because it took longer to get there. The place was called Nagsasa Cove.
Launching area for the outrigger canoes
Outrigger canoe (banca) ride on calm seas to Nagsasa Cove
Elgee, Larry, & Ninette in Nagsasa Cove
We got off the boat to find a shady place to set our things. All the huts were occupied but after waiting a few minutes, one became available and we were able to use it for the day. Ninette and I went exploring and she wanted to find a trail that was mentioned on the internet. We saw the trail but were unable to get there because the path through the shallow water was too rocky. There must have been another way to get to that trail but we couldn’t find it at that moment. She took a few photos of the views and ourselves of course, then went back to our family who had since settled down at the hut (well, it was a big table with a roof). By then, the sun was blazing hot and the sand was burning if you were barefoot. We entered the sea water to get some relief and thankfully the water gradually deepened the farther you went compared to yesterday’s beach where there was a sudden drop into deep ocean after only a few feet of beach. We swam a little bit but generally just enjoyed the coolness of the water.
Uno, Robynne, Ninette, Ben, & Elgee keeping cool

Me in Nagsasa Cove
We had lunch of fried fish, grilled fish, squid, rice, and other things that I had already forgotten about. After a brief rest, we dipped in the ocean again and oh my God (!), Larry went in the water too. He had already put into consideration that he didn’t have any open cuts on his skin and that he wasn’t going to “put his head in the water so his mucous membranes weren’t exposed to whatever bacteria was in the water. Some of us were not too pleased with what he did, but begrudgingly accepted it.
Lunch Time
Larry taking a daring plunge into the ocean
Taking shelter from the heat under the hut
The boat was supposed to come back to pick us up at 3:30 p.m. but they were slightly delayed. The boat handlers said the sea was getting choppier and to expect to get wet on the way back. What an understatement! They should have said “get very wet and get very scared of dying”. Casting off the beach, the waves didn’t feel so bad, but the farther we went, they got increasingly larger. Well large in proportion to the outrigger. Splish Splash and everyone was taking a bath. Hit a wave, bounce up, get splashed with sea water, and this went on for an hour and a half. Yes, it took 30 more minutes to get back because of the waves. Some were freaking out, others quietly stoic (or is it stoically quiet?), while a few had no fear due to their confidence in their swimming abilities. I was thinking I was about to meet my Maker on my vacation but kept quiet about it. After all, we were literally and figuratively on the same boat, weren’t we? Names shall not be mentioned but one older lady got so fed up with all the bouncing around that she exclaimed “bababa na ako!” (I wanna get off!), which made for a lighthearted moment and made everyone laugh despite the situation we were in. We soon saw our landing area up ahead but it still seemed to take forever to get there because we were battling cross currents, and when we did we had a hard time getting off the boat due to the waves. What a great relief to be back on dry land! We had survived the harrowing boat ride and our very own Good Friday Calvary at sea. Believe me, it was probably more scary than my capability to describe it in words.

Another tricycle ride and we were back at Big Foot Rest House (still no sighting of the Yeti). Well the Philippines is such a Catholic/Christian country that most of the restaurants were closed on Good Friday. We were caught in yet another traffic jam downtown when we ran into a religious procession while trying to find a place to eat. We ended up getting take out and eating in our room at Big Foot. Another vacation day full of adventure had ended.
You can read about the first 3 days here: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2016/04/philippines-vacation-2016-first-3-days.html

Attribution: Some photos from this post were taken from Ninette's Facebook page.